Tesla Ban Addressed by Christie [AUDIO]
During the question-and-answer segment of his latest town hall meeting, Gov. Chris Christie defended the state's decision to ban Tesla from selling its electric vehicles directly to customers in New Jersey.
Those sales will become illegal on April 1, following a vote last week by the state's Motor Vehicle Commission.
The first South River audience member to be picked by Christie asked why he was "pushing Tesla out of the state of New Jersey."
The governor insisted it wasn't his doing; it's the law.
"If you want to sell cars in the state, you must go through an authorized dealer," Christie explained. "Tesla was operating, and we continued to warn them, that they were operating outside the law."
The company had been selling directly to customers for about a year at two locations in New Jersey, which will become only galleries next month.
"What they were asking for was an exception from the law," Christie said. "I'm not the king. My job is not to make the laws; it's to enforce the laws."
Christie indicated he would be fine with Tesla operating in New Jersey if the company can work with the legislature to get the rules changed.
In a blog response to the state's decision, Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted auto dealers attempted to force Tesla to sell through them, but the company declined.
"The reason that we did not choose to do this is that the auto dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between promoting gasoline cars, which constitute virtually all of their revenue, and electric cars, which constitute virtually none," Musk wrote. "An even bigger conflict of interest with auto dealers is that they make most of their profit from service, but electric cars require much less service than gasoline cars."
Tesla's service centers will not be affected by the vote.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) attacked Christie's town hall comments, saying they're a "classic example of passing the buck in the face of an unpopular decision."
"Here are the facts: the Motor Vehicle Commission previously issued Tesla a license to sell cars in New Jersey. Now, MVC is changing their rules so that Tesla will no longer be allowed to operate in New Jersey," Greenwald stated in a press release. "This was not an act of the legislature, but rather Governor Christie's administration changing its mind about Tesla."